We hopscotched the islands for seven days, but the trip passed in a blur, thanks to a never-ending roster of activities. We snorkeled off Punta Espinoza with sea turtles so old and beautiful they seemed immortal. We oohed and ahhed as marine iguanas—like miniature Godzillas—scampered over rocks and dove under the surf to munch on algae. We crept up on sea lions and penguins to see which of us newly minted explorers could capture the best photo.
One day, we cruised close by Daphne Minor, an island accessible only to scientists, so our guide could point out awesomely strange blue-footed boobies, short-eared owls, red-billed tropicbirds and a few (pompously named) magnificent frigatebirds.
My favorite moment took place another afternoon: As our incredibly friendly and absurdly knowledgeable guides were explaining the evolution of the marine iguanas, a Galápagos hawk swooped in and attacked an adult iguana. It was like being in the middle of a National Geographic special.